Cassilo: Lost in the turmoil, memories of McNabb and success

David Cassilo

Growing up a New York Giants fan, there were two games that scared me every season: Home versus the Eagles and away versus the Eagles. At this time the Cowboys and Redskins were virtually irrelevant, and the only thing standing in our way from winning the division was the Philadelphia Eagles. Nothing was more frightening than Donovan McNabb dropping back to throw the ball. Every fan knew that when he had the ball, the Eagles could score on any play. Beating the Eagles, which did not happen as often as I would have liked, was like winning a mini-Super Bowl. For years they were the class of the division, and it felt as though as long as they had McNabb and Andy Reid, things would stay that way. Today, after looking back on a thrilling 16-13 victory over the Eagles, I realized that things would not stay that way. The Eagles missed their chance and are en route to the inevitable decline and destruction of the team I feared most. I could not be happier.

The Eagles teams of the past seven years will always be tied to McNabb. In his prime, McNabb was the most dangerous player in the NFC East. Not only could he rifle a touchdown bomb 60 yards down the field, but he could also escape three sacks and deliver a back-breaking first-down run. He was the complete package and made everyone forget the groans that were heard when the Eagles picked him over Ricky Williams.

Today, a much different McNabb takes snaps under center. No longer does he seem to have that big-play capability that would strike fear into any defender. Not only is he not making the big plays, he rarely even attempts them. You can argue that part of the problem is that he no longer has a Terrell Owens or a Donte’ Stallworth to throw to, but he didn’t have those guys when he was leading the Eagles to the series of NFC Championship games they went to. McNabb, for whatever reason, is incapable of making the big play or the right play anymore. He holds onto the ball too long, takes sacks, does not run and is too content to dump it off to Brian Westbrook. The Eagles quarterback is blessed with a set of physical skills that people only dream about having, but it appears that those skills are diminishing by the day.

As important as McNabb was to the Eagles’ glory days, you cannot mention his name without discussing Reid. Both members of the organization can take the credit for being the men who turned around the franchise. Reid bestowed trust in McNabb when others did not. He saw talent in Westbrook when others said he was too small. Reid was the mastermind behind a high-flying Eagles passing attack that could score at any given moment. However, as the losses pile up this season, so do the rumors about Reid going elsewhere. How soon we are to forget the four straight trips to the NFC Championship game.

I can’t go much further without pointing the blame to Eagles fans. This past Sunday I sat at Lincoln Financial Field decked out in Giants apparel, and not once did I even here a taunt or curse in my direction. Why? Because Eagles fans are too busy ragging on their own team. When the Eagles were winning, the entire stadium was quiet. It was as if no cared. The second they fell behind the entire place stirred.

“McNabb throws like a girl.”

“Reid’s play-calling chart is really a pizza box.”

“I hope we lose so we get a good draft pick.”

Is it really true that Philadelphia fans, who have suffered longer than those of any other city, are now rooting for their team to lose? Yes, because Eagles fans have become numb to the success they have experienced in the McNabb/Reid era. Ask a Dolphins fan if they would take six playoff trips in seven seasons. Ask a Lions fan if they’d be happy with one NFC title game – let alone four. The problem for the Eagles and their fans is that they don’t remember how bad they had it. However, soon they will. Once McNabb and Reid walk out that door, maybe people will start to appreciate what they did for them. For now, complain away and enjoy your rebuilding years. You will be lucky to find another quarterback and coach as talented as McNabb and Reid. I know the rest of the NFC East feels lucky to have them being pushed out by their own fans.

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David Cassilo is a sophomore communication major from Chatham, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected]